In some of the circles I associate with, people with MS will often say, “I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.” It’s a statement meant to convey courage and determination that MS will not keep them down. They are not willing to admit defeat. And while I’m not one of those who often repeats that phrase, I definitely agree with the sentiment.
However, I came to a realization about a month ago. In some ways, MS did “have” me. Sure, I still smile and make jokes, and I don’t complain much about the invisible symptoms I’m experiencing. But on some level I was still letting the diagnosis limit me.
I’ve never been a fan of running, but I do acknowledge the benefits of it. My siblings are runners, one cousin, a few friends. They all thoroughly enjoy the experience of it. Also, my son loves to run, and we’ve talked over the past year about running a 5k together. I know my body can’t run a 5k at this point, but I haven’t been training for it. Why? Because I was scared. Mostly scared of losing my balance mid-stride and falling flat on my face, but also afraid that on the last lap my nerves would decide to stop communicating with my feet and I would not only fall, but land myself in another full-blown relapse.
There are so many problems with this thinking. One, I’m letting fear make the decision for me. I don’t care for making any decisions out of fear, ever. Two, there is absolutely no record, that I know of, of exercise causing an MS relapse. It just doesn’t happen.
And I don’t know how I came to this realization exactly, I just remember that I did. And when I did, I got mad. But only long enough to let it motivate me to do something about it. So I decided to make a commitment to getting on the treadmill DAILY, and we would just see how it goes. Treadmill running is not ideal, but it works. I get to stay home, so I can run in my pajamas (and I do, believe me). It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, so there is no room for excuses there. And there are handles to hold onto in case I start losing my balance. It’s a win all around.
I’ve been running for 3 weeks minus most of last week (self-diagnosed bronchitis) and I’m feeling stronger already. My energy level definitely feels more balanced than it was. Also, I’ve lost 3 pounds I didn’t expect to lose, so that’s an added bonus. Love it when my pants fit better! I’m on a couch to 5k program. It’s supposed to be 3 times per week, but I’m doing it every day because I know it would feel like I’m skipping a day and then I would just lose momentum. So that’s victory #1.
Victory #2 involves the training of our dog. It’s actually a lot of little victories, so I’ll save that explanation for another post later this week. I promise I’ll try to make it sound as exciting as I feel. I guess if you have any idea how much I have hated this dog (but don’t anymore), you will be able to share in my excitement. So stay tuned, folks! I’m still here!